We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.

They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.

Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.

—  ~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.

From The Moth podcast, ‘Notes on an Exorcism’.

12 portraits of heroic Rwandans who stood up in their country’s genocide

On Monday, Rwanda launched a week of official mourning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 massacres in which more than 800,000 people were slaughtered in just 100 days by ethnic Hutu extremists, targeting members of the minority Tutsi community and political opponents. While the rest of the world stood by, however, some people stood up. 

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Photo Series: “Diner en Blanc Kigali - 2014 Edition”.

On August 10th this year, Kigali’s scenic Acacia Gardens was a sea of crisp white as it played host to the city’s annual ‘Diner en Blanc’ event.

Currently in its third year, Rwanda became the first country in Africa to take part in this global event in 2012. Global Diner en Blanc events were put together to foster friendship, elegance and sense of community amongst those who attend. This year, as it seeks to be integrated into Rwanda’s broader tourism agenda, the event attracted over 500 people hailing from both African countries and other foreign states.

See more amazing photographs of the event here!

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Schindler’s Witch: How Sorcery Saved Lives During the Rwandan Genocide

Twenty years after the Rwandan genocide, the country is still coming to terms with what took place during that period of extreme violence. Perpetrators are still being brought to justice, and heroic stories are still emerging.

One such story belongs to Zula Karuhimbi, a woman some Rwandans claim saved more than 100 people through “sorcery.”

After we learned that she lived in the southern Ruhango District, we drove from Kigali to find her. On the way, we stopped at a roadside restaurant, where we told the waiter we were searching for the “witch” who had saved lives during the genocide. “The witch who was honored by the government?” a customer asked. “I know where she lives. I’ll take you to her.”

He brought us to Musamo Village, where we abandoned our car and ploughed by foot through waist-high shrubbery. Turning into an enclosure, we found Karuhimbi asleep on a straw mat outside a tiny house. She was hugging a small child, who, we later discovered, was an orphaned boy she had recently adopted.

She looked wizened and frail as she slept, but she jumped to attention when we told her we had come to hear her story. “Yes,” she confirmed, “I’m the Zula who hid Tutsis.” Pointing to the ground, she said, “I put them here in the compound and covered them with dry leaves of beans and baskets.” As many as 100 Tutsis, 50 Tutsis, two Twas, and three white men had taken refuge in and around her tiny two-room house during the three-month genocide in 1994.

“I hid so many people that I don’t know some of their names. I hid little babies I found on the backs of their dead mothers, and I brought them here.”

When the militia encircled her enclosure, Karuhimbi covered her hands in herbs that would cause skin irritation, according to The New Times. She touched the killers—who became fearful because they believed she was cursing them—and then retreated inside her house. She grabbed whatever she could find and shook it, claiming that it was the sound of the spirits becoming angry. “I hid those people seriously. I’d prepare some magic, and when the killers came, I’d tell them I would kill them. I told them no Tutsis had come to my house—that no one comes in my house—while all the time they were all inside.”

Karuhimbi grew up in a family of traditional healers. Her identity card indicates that she was born in 1925, making her five or six when the Belgian administration deposted Rwandan King Yuhi Musinga, who had been in power for 35 years, partly because of his refusal to be baptized as a Roman Catholic. During this period, Karuhimbi said, her mother would regularly hide people, and she was responsible for delivering their food. “Whenever I spoke out, I’d be beaten by my mother, who eventually brought a fiery leaf of a plant and slid it over my lips and told me, ‘If you say anything I will kill you.’”


Many people are flocking to a little shop in Rwanda for something sweet, cold and yummy. With “ice-cream, coffee, dreams” across its signage, Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams) is the country’s first ice-cream parlor. Offering scoops of passion fruit, strawberry and pineapple flavors, the shop is bringing together locals and changing the lives of the nine women which it employs. ”I didn’t have a job before: I just stayed at home. Now I have a vision for the future. I am making money and I can give some of it to my family,” says 27-year-old Louise Ingabire, who manages the parlor. 

Outside the shop, the nine women are members of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only female drumming troupe, founded by Odile Gakire Katese, the owner of Inzozi Nziza. The troupe was established ten years ago to empower widows, orphans and survivors of the1994 genocide that killed nearly a million people. The musicians and ice cream shop are both featured in the documentary, "Sweet Dreams."

Read more via The Guardian


At a point in society where everything may be transient or in a constant period of transition, Rwanda uses this time to introduce an entirely new concept to it’s culture: ice cream. Sweet Dreams ice cream shop has also created a female drum troupe that brings together women from the two sides of the Rwandan genocide. Sometimes the opportunity to enjoy the little things in life can help produce the biggest changes. 


Jonathan Torgovnik was awarded a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography in 2007 for his project “Intended Consequences.” Torgovnik followed 50 women who were raped during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and who bore children as a result. The project was built through a series of narratives constructed from environmental portraits, audio interviews and textual reflections. “Intended Consequences” led to the creation of Foundation Rwanda, which provides assistance to the mothers and children.

2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography program, which has now awarded almost $1 million in funding to photojournalists. As we prepare to announce this year’s winners on September 4 at Visa Pour l’Image, we are taking a look back at some of the winners from the past 10 years. See more on In Focus.